Congressman Ruwel Peter Gonzaga is said to be the “hybrid politician” of Compostela Valley.
Why? He is sort of a blend of three political greats in Comval, a sort of new political genome whose leadership traits were formed out cross-breed of positive leadership traits of late Congressman Prospero “Pros” Amatong, former Comval Governor Jose “Joecab” Caballero and former Governor and now provincial Board Member Arturo “Chiongkee” Uy.
When asked of this “hybrid” description to him tagged by some political pundits, first-termer Cong. and lawyer Gonzaga gamely agreed with, saying the gem of associations with Amatong, Caballero and Uy provided him good insights and learning on how to be good politician.
Cong. Gonzaga’s political career started when he first became a provincial board member in 1998-2001. On the second term of then Gov. Caballero, he was his vice governor in 2001-2004. Being in that post made him knew closely the positive leadership traits of Caballero.
In 2004 election, he ran for congressman and lost to political giant Pros Amatong in what appeared as a David-Goliath battle where David did not make it. In 2004-2007 he was in political furlough, and had to go fulltime lawyer.
In 2007 he made a political comeback by running for board member under the Uswag Comval Party led by then Gov. Chiongkee Uy. He won and went on winning two successive terms.
His 2007 comeback allowed him to reconcile with ex-Cong Pros. Amatong and his political successor son then Cong. Rommel “Bobong” Amatong. This allowed Gonzaga to know more on the positive leadership traits of the iconic Pros Amatong.
In an interview with Cong. Gonzaga Wednesday, during Mawab’s parochial fiesta, he informed that Cong. Pros Amatong has sort of prophesy to him when he advised him to help son Bobong’s congressional bids, saying “kay ikaw na ang sunod nga kongresman Ruwel.” Pros Amatong’s words became true indeed.
As he became board member on the second round for three straight terms in Comval under the leadership of then Gov. Chiongkee Uy, he learned a lot of the governor’s positive leadership traits as he proved to be a prolific provincial legislator chairing the committees on legal matters, resolutions, ordinances and style and on justice and public safety.
“It’s really destiny that I become a congressman,” he said.
He recalled that he was focused on his prospect of running for mayor in Mawab as he was already on his last term as board member. Towards the run-up to the filing of candidacy in the 2016 polls, Gov. Chiongkee later told him to prepare to run for Congress, while his elder brother now Mayor Ruperto “Rupet” Gonzaga III would gun for mayorship.
He said the governor’s advice was based on a survey where he led by a narrow percentage than the name of ex-Gov. Joecab Caballero, who would later become his rival in the congressional race last year. He had only 49% to 51% leading slim over Joecab.
He added it was a risky try knowing that he and his brother Rupet had no enough money to wage two political battles. Uy and hometown supporters vowed to back them up.
But in the end, both Gonzagas won. Cong. Ruwel got 90,527 votes while Joecab got 79,842 votes, resulting to a margin of 10,685 votes. Mayor Rupet got 10,956 votes while rival ex-Mayor Samuel Jampayas got 7,904, resulting a margin of 2,781 votes.
Now Cong. Gonzaga is an active PDP member and has to thank for the confidence of Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez and House leaders to him. In the recent congressional committee hearings he had been assigned to sit at the front row.
After a year of being a congressman, he is coming true to his form as a prolific legislator with 32 House Bills he authored, one of which is HB No. 04633, “an act renaming the province of Compostela Valley into Davao de Oro Province, amending for the purpose pertinent portions of Republic Act No. 8470. The bill is now at the Committee on Local Government.
He said he got his inspiration and strength from his late father Ruperto, who was a lawyer and provincial board member for 15 years (1971-1986) during the old divided Davao del Norte. “It’s him who molded me, who gave me the words to live by, that men who have a virtues would last in the world.”
He added his principle is life is “ayaw gyod pagpaubos ug tawo (never ever downgrade anybody)”, and he hates abuse in public coming from his family or relatives.
Cong. Ruwel is married to Judge Dorothy M. Gonzaga assigned at Regional Trial Court in Panabo City. They are blessed with three children- Thea Petricia, Theodore Peter and Theo Patrick.(mindanaosunchronicle.com/Cha Monforte)